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Israeli flagIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Apparent anti-Israeli vandals damaged an ancient archaeological site featuring a monk's mill this weekend in the northern part of the country.

The site, known as the “Monk's Mill,” dates back about 500 years ago. It was a flour mill, used for making bread by Christian monks who lived in the area's monasteries around the present village of Tzippori (Sepphoris).

Inside the ruins of the building, officials from the Kishon Drainage and Streams Authority found shreds of Israeli flags that were ripped and burned. The building's walls, doorposts, windows and entryways were damaged, officials said. The site, which is a highly important archaeological and tourist site, is visited by thousands of Israelis each year.

First settled by the Hasmoneans in 2 B.C.E., this area served as the Roman capital of the Galilee through the reign of King Herod. Tzippori is where Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi later developed the written Mishnah in the second centurey C.E.-- the codification of up-to-then Oral Jewish Law that later was further expanded upon by Rabbinic Sages, in the extensive commentary-filled volumes of the Gemarah. The two texts together comprise the Talmud, the compendium of the Oral Law of the Torah.

A police complaint has been filed. No suspects have yet been identified, although it is believed that Arab and Druze youths from surrounding villages may have been behind the vandalism, but it is still not clear what the motivation for the attack might have been.